Security agents bar critical television documentary

MAY 14, 2006
Posted May 30, 2006

Africa Independent Television (AIT)

Plainclothes security agents told managers at the Abuja bureau of Africa Independent Television (AIT) to stop broadcasting a privately produced 30-minute documentary about past failed efforts by Nigerian leaders to prolong their time in office. The agents also confiscated the master copy of the documentary, which had aired several times on the independent network, local media and the Lagos-based press freedom organization Media Rights Agenda reported.

The seizure occurred as Nigeria’s National Assembly debated whether to amend the country’s constitution to allow President Olusegun Obasanjo to run for a third term in office. The issue is extremely sensitive in Nigeria. A source at AIT’s parent company, Daar Communications, who asked not to be named, said that the tape was handed over “peacefully” and that there had been no further reprisals against the network.

Daar Communications Chairman Raymond Dokpasi said the agents claimed to be acting on orders from the president. “They came and said we should discontinue the documentary on tenure elongation,” Dokpasi told Media Rights Agenda. “They demanded one of the master tapes and we gave them one.” He added that he planned to lodge a formal protest before the National Broadcasting Commission, a government regulatory agency.